Digital History at Ursinus

The Feminist Manifesto

Dublin Core

Title

The Feminist Manifesto

Subject

Sex, Gender, Marriage, and the New Woman

Description

Dodge Supports and Cultivates Loy’s Feminist Declaration Decades Ahead of 20th Century Society

Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” is a century ahead of its time. The radical ideology presented by Loy was cultivated and supported by Mabel Dodge’s influence. Dodge and Loy were close in Florence and continued their connection through letters once Dodge moved to New York. Dodge was in fact present for the writing of the manifesto and offered suggestions to it (Barnet 15-7). Dodge’s own feminist ideology is clearly presented and articulated within the manifesto. Dodge’s role in supporting and encouraging the development Loy’s own voice is equally important because her role in the “creation” of a figure like Loy conveys Dodge’s multifaceted influence on radical gender reform. Burke writes Loy used “the weapon of their intellect to ‘drive’ intelligence into society in an act of social reforum,” (104).

Loy’s Manifesto was not received well by the gender reform movements that were more main stream. Loy was operating in a time that was dominated by an earlier form of feminism that did not seek to question differences between men and women or the economic implications of gender inequality. This type of feminism would be more the type of the Seneca Falls era. Feminism for Loy’s world was “clean”. Loy’s feminist manifesto exists in complete opposition of the “clean-cut” feminism gaining steam around her. Loy begins with “The feminist movement as at present instituted is Inadequate.”

Dodge supporting Loy is extremely important because without the support of an aristocratic “high society” woman, Loy’s work would likely be demeaned too radical to even listen to and could have even been demeaned subversive. Dodge’s role in any reform movement gives the movement economic power and validity to a wider audience.

Ironically, Dodge’s power is derived from the same patriarchal forces which Loy is denouncing in her manifesto. Even the title “manifesto” is clearly calling on the Communist Manifesto which was highly talked about by Bohemian society in Greenwich Village and Florence during the dawn of the 20th century. Loy even calls on women to NOT derive their power from male systems,
“Cease to place your confidence in economic legislation, vise-crusades & uniform education-you are glossing over Reality. Professional & commercial careers are opening up for you—Is that all you want? And if you honestly desire to find your level without prejudice—be Brave & deny at the outset—that pathetic clap-trap war cry Woman is the equal of man- For She is NOT. The man who lives a life in which his activities conform to a social code which is protectorate of the feminine element—–is no longer masculine.”

Though Dodge does inhabit an extremely vital role is Loy’s development as a fellow woman who supported her radical ideology, it is still important to recognize how Dodge might be female, but her power is derived from male systems of power. Still, Loy’s attack of capitalism and the connections she draws between the free market and the oppression of women are huge for her time. Loy expressed feeling very disconnected to modernism and futurism. Loy herself wrote using these genres. Loy’s disconnect was caused by the presence of dominating male figures who she was forced to compete with therefore Dodge’s role as a woman supporter is pivotal for Loy (Schmid 1).

Loy’s radical feminist ideas were supported by Dodge as present in their correspondence as well as Dodge’s own statements from her memoirs. Specifically Dodge shares similar distaste with existing within the confines of defined gender that Loy laments in her manifesto. Hustak writes how Dodge made, “efforts to transform this normative female self”(173). He continues to explain that Dodge’s efforts in Greenwich village were in the, “milieu of what Nancy Cott has called ‘modern feminism’” and that for Dodge, “the gendered self came under close scrutiny as a restricted domain that fell short of the broader category of the ‘human’ personality, which could only fully develop by integrating both the masculine and the feminine,” (Hustak 175). Loy’s manifesto denounces the same idea that gender should be defined by concrete Victorian ideals like virginity.

Loy’s stance on sexuality and liberation also mirror Dodge’s ideology of the “New Woman”. Loy’s writing is even more radical than someone like Margaret Sanger who was the organizing force behind the birth control league. Loy isn’t just calling for sexual liberation. Loy asserts, “The fictitious value of a woman as identified with her physical purity,” going on to denounce the idea of virginity. Dodge also supported this view point as clear by her open marriage with Maurice Stern as well as her personal writing than calls for sexual equality in a relationship.

The Feminist Manifesto is just one result of Dodge’s expansive impact on how The Village would interpret the role of women in society and in relationships. Dodge was instrumental in the composition of “The Feminist Manifesto” through how she lived her own life and shared her perceptions with people like Loy. By directly supporting Dodge can be appreciated as someone who was eager to engage in discourse with anyone who wanted to explore knowledge with her. Dodge’s dual role as a patroness of reform while also being a radical is illustrated with her relationship to Loy.

Barnet, Andrea. All Night Party: The Women of Bohemia Greenwich Village and
Harlem. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2004. Print.

Burke, Carolyn. "Getting Spliced: Modernism and Sexual Difference." American
Quarterly 39.1 (1987): 98-121. Print.

Hustak, Carla Christina. "Inventing the female self in Greenwich Village,
1900–1930: Mabel Dodge's encounter with science and spirituality."
Critical Psychology 6.2 (2013): 173-92. Print.

Schmid, Julie. "Mina Loy's Futurist Theatre." Performing Arts Journal 18.1
(1996): 1-7. Print.

Creator

Mina Loy

Source

Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection

Publisher

Beinecke Library

Date

1914

Contributor

Mabel Dodge

Rights

Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection

Format

Manuscript

Language

English

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

Feminist Manifesto

The feminist movement as at present instituted is
Inadequate
Mina Loy, Feminist Manifesto

Women if you want to realize yourselves-you are on the eve of a devastating psychological upheaval-all your pet illusions must be unmasked—the lies of centuries have got to go—are you prepared for the Wrench–? There is no half-measure—NO scratching on the surface of the rubbish heap of tradition, will bring about Reform, the only method is Absolute Demolition
Cease to place your confidence in economic legislation, vise-crusades & uniform education-you are glossing over Reality.
Professional & commercial careers are opening up for you—
Is that all you want?
And if you honestly desire to find your level without prejudice—be Brave & deny at the outset—that pathetic clap-trap war cry Woman is the equal of man-
For
She is NOT
The man who lives a life in which his activities conform to a social code which is protectorate of the feminine element—–is no longer masculine
The women who adapt themselves to a theoretical valuation of their sex as a relative impersonality, are not yet Feminine
Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —–seek within yourselves to find out what you are
As conditions are at present constituted—you have the choice between Parasitism, & Prostitution —-or Negation
Men & women are enemies, with the enmity of the exploited for the parasite, the parasite for the exploited—at present they re at the mercy of the advantage that each can take the others sexual dependence—-. The only point at which the interests of the sexes merge—is the sexual embrace.
The first illusion it is to your interest to demolish of women into two classes the mistress, & the mother every well-balanced & developed woman knows that is not true. Nature has endowed the complete functions—-there are no restrictions on the woman who is so incompletely evolved as to be un-self-conscious in sex, will prove a restrictive influence on the temperamental expansion of the next generation; the woman who is a poor mistress will be an incompetent mother—an inferior mentality—& will enjoy an inadequate apprehension of Life.
To obtain results you must make sacrifices & the first and greatest sacrifice you have to make is of your ”virtue”
The fictitious value of a woman as identified with her physical purity—is too easy to stand-by—rendering her lethargic in the acquisition of intrinsic merits of character by which she could obtain a concrete value—-therefore, the fist self-enforced law for the female sex, as a protection of the man made bogey of virtue—which is the principal instrument of her subjection, would be the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty—-.
The value of man is assessed entirely according to his use or interest to the community, the value of woman depends entirely on chance, her success or in success in maneuvering a man into taking the life-long responsibility of her—
The advantages of marriage are too ridiculously ample—
Compared to all other trades—for under modern conditions a woman can accept preposterously luxurious support from a man (with-out the return of an sort—even offspring)—as a thank offering for her virginity.
The woman who has not succeeded in striking that advantageous bargin—-is prohibited from any but surreptitious re-action to Life-stimuli—-&entirely debarred maternity.
Every woman has a right to maternity—-
Every woman of superior intelligence should realize her race-responsibility, in producing children in adequate proportion to the unfit or degenerate members of her sex—-
Each child of a superior woman should be the result f a definite period of psychic development in her life—-& and not necessarily of a possible irksome & outworn continuance of an alliance—spontaneously adapted for vital creation n the beginning but not necessarily harmoniously balanced as evolution.
For the harmony of race, each individual should be the expression of an easy & ample interpenetration of th male & female temperaments—free of stress
Woman must become more responsible for the child than man—-
Woman must destroy in themselves, the desire to be loved—
The feeling that it is a personal insult when a man transfers his attention from her to another woman
The desire for comfortable protection instead of an intelligent curiosity & courage in meeting & resisting the pressure of life sex or so called love must be reduced to its initial element, honour, grief, sentimentality, pride and & consequently jealousy must be detached from it.
Woman for her happiness must retain her deceptive fragility of appearance, combined with indomitable will, irreducible courage, & abundant health the outcome of sound nerves—
Another great illusion is that woman must use all her introspective and clear-sightedness & unbiased bravery to destroy—for the sake of her self respect is the impurity of sex the realization in defiance of superstition that there is nothing impure in sex—except in the mental attitude to it—will constitute an incalculable & wider social regeneration than it is possible for our generation to imagine.

Mina Loy (1914)

Original Format

Manuscript

Files

Feminist Manifesto Header
Feminist Manifesto Attributions and Full Text

Citation

Mina Loy, “The Feminist Manifesto,” Digital History at Ursinus, accessed September 20, 2017, http://omeka.ursinus.edu/items/show/11.